Maternity nurse with patient & baby

Women & Children's Research Team

The Women & Children’s Health Research Unit (WCHRU) is a multidisciplinary team of healthcare professionals, members of the public and academics; conducting research across many areas of Women’s Health: from Reproductive Health and Gynaecology, through Antenatal care to childbirth; and also the follow on care of mothers and new born babies.

Our research is supported by the Department of Health and a range of charities, with our research projects encompassing a wide breadth of both laboratory-based and clinical work, to improve health, wellbeing and patient care.

We collaborate with colleagues nationally and internationally to develop and deliver ground-breaking, high-quality research and care, which benefits our patients here in the NHS but also increases care standards globally.

The Women & Children’s Health Research Unit is led by a multi-professional senior research team with support from North Bristol NHS Trust, the University of Bristol and the Prompt Maternity Foundation.

The team has a wealth of experience conducting research studies and trials, and improving training, guidelines and patient outcomes.

Our key areas of interest and expertise include:

  • Multi-professional Obstetric Training
  • Maternal & Foetal medicine
  • Bereavement care following baby loss
  • Improving antenatal care
  • Improving education
  • Simulation training
  • Operative vaginal births
  • Infertility
  • Core Outcome Sets
  • Global obstetrics

Our staff work in close collaboration with University partners, as well as a number of other NHS Trusts. We also have fundamental links with organisations such as the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, the Clinical Research Network, the National Simulation Network, International Stillbirth Alliance, and many more.

Meet the team:

Mary Alvarez

Senior Research Midwife

Mary qualified as a midwife in 1991 and has worked at NBT since qualifying. Marys research career began in January 2015 when she was given the lead midwife role on the IMox study; she was subsequently promoted to the role of senior research midwife in 2017. Mary is also a faculty member of PROMPT maternity Foundation, a research champion for the West of England and is an alumni of the NIHR’s Advanced Leadership Programme. Mary aims to create a research culture at NBT where research is seen as ‘everyone’s daily business’ and where all women will have an opportunity to engage with world class research. Mary recently completed an MScR award with the University of Bristol. Using qualitative data from the women and midwives who participated in the ASSIST II study integrated qualitative study, Mary produced and will publish a framework to ensure that recruitment to intrapartum research is a whole pregnancy process, is fair and woman centred.

Nichola Bale

Senior Research Midwife

Nicky was a clinical midwife who worked in complicated antenatal and intrapartum care for 16 years before beginning her research career in 2016.  Based in the Great Western Hospital, Swindon, she was the lead midwife for the IMox intrapartum study.  Working on this study made Nicky realise she had a keen interest in research processes, and she became aware of the difference research can make to patient care; both at the point of delivery and for future patients.  Keen to pursue this as a new career pathway, Nicky then moved to NBT where she has since worked on research delivery across multiple studies and now holds a position as Senior Research midwife.  Nicky aims to increase research opportunities for women and their families and encompass all aspects of Women’s and Children’s health, to include both gynaecology and Neonatal Intensive Care, as well as maternity studies.

Elizabeth 'Annie' Deacon

Research Midwife

Annie has worked in research delivery across multiple studies for over seven years and witnessed first-hand how research improves the health and wellbeing of women and children in maternity services. She acknowledges that women need to be given the highest quality evidence to make decisions about their care and this can only be achieved through an NHS trust that is research active with motivated staff. She feels privileged to work in such an environment.

With 38 years of nursing and midwifery experience prior to entering the world of research, I have had the opportunity to use my clinical knowledge to support women considering and participating in research to make an informed choice when they become involved in the research process.

Naomi Mallinson

Research Midwife

Naomi joined the Maternity Research team in 2016 and brought with her a wealth of clinical midwifery experience. Naomi qualified as a midwife in 2002 and continues to work clinically on Central Delivery Suite. She enjoys the opportunity to promote a research positive culture within her clinical area of work. Naomi has delivered various studies within the department and leads on the ORCHARD study. Naomi is a core member of the Maternity Research team and supports more junior members. Naomi is keen to promote the positive impact of research and recognises the wide range of benefits that taking part in research offers to patients, staff and NBT.

Katie Mettam

Research Midwife

Katie qualified as a Midwife in 2016 after studying for her midwifery degree at the University of the West of England. Since then she worked as a rotational Midwife at the Great Western Hospital in Swindon and completed two secondments to the Midwife led birth unit there. Katie joined the Women and Children’s research department on secondment in October 2019 to work on the AKID study, investigating Acute Kidney Injury and Diabetes in pregnancy. Katie is passionate about evidence based practice and the positive impact research can have on improving patient care.

Anne Glover

Research Midwife

Anne is a midwife with numerous years of clinical experience, now splitting her time working between the Central Delivery Suite and within Maternity Research. Anne is passionate about research and has previously been involved in Women & Children's studies as part of a series of secondments before being welcomed to the team in a permanent role in 2021. Joining at an exciting time of expansion for Maternity Research at NBT, Anne particularly enjoys building relationships with the women and their families who are so enthusiastic about participating in Women & Children's studies, and helping the team as they strive to lead pioneering research and improve patient care.

Sarah Coates

Research Midwife

Sarah qualified as a midwife at NBT in 2008 and joined the research team in 2021 after working in a variety of settings, including Cossham Birth Centre and at a high-risk unit in Haiti in 2016 whilst working for the charity ‘Doctors Without Borders’.  She has a wealth of clinical experience and joined the team to develop her skills as a researcher and promote research being at the root of clinical care to ensure the best outcomes and experiences for women and their families in the maternity system.  Sarah has a particular interest in making research more inclusive and tackling the barriers to participation following her involvement in a pilot project in 2022, ‘Black Maternity Matters,’ that highlighted the stark differences in maternity outcomes between Black, Asian and White women.  

Sally Hall

Research Administrator

Sally joined North Bristol Trust in 2008 with an extensive secretarial and administrative background. She began working within the respiratory department and then transferred to the maternity Unit where she worked on Quantock Ward and Day Assessment Unit for 9 years as Ward Clerk. Sally joined the research department in 2017 as Trial Administrator for studies including Imox, Mifemiso, Parrot and ASSIST and ASSIST II. Her increasing knowledge of the Women & Children’s department and passion for research helps support and facilitate correct governance for studies within the maternity research department.

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About Research & Development

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Find out more about our research and how we're working to improve patient care.

Contact Research

Research & Development
North Bristol NHS Trust
Level 3, Learning & Research building
Southmead Hospital
Bristol, BS10 5NB

Telephone: 0117 4149330